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Hoya kerrii ‘Albomarginata’

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Who will not fall in love with this climbing  succulent plant. The leaves are thick, large, and heart-shaped with green around the middle and creamy yellow around the edges. Even with no flowers, it is already very pretty. Hoya is a slow growing climber that can be trained on trellis or shaped into all sorts of forms.

Variegated Heart Shaped Hoya

I just bought this pretty hoya today in Garden World. It is my Christmas present. It hasn’t flowered yet but the flowers will be clusters of light pink with red star center. Growing requirements for Melbourne area/Australia:    Read more

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Repotting Cattleya Orchid

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It is not my orchid! My friend Rieka asked me to repot some of her orchids again this year. One of them is Cattleya Blc. Ballandean ‘Bette’ x Blc. Prophecy ‘Montere’. I knew nothing about growing cattleyas as I had never grown them before. The plant was in a terrible state with a lot of dead bulbs and rhizomes. The few remaining leaves also look stressed. So before doing anything to it, I had to find out about Cattleya growing requirements in Melbourne area. For the very first time I learned that cattleyas have rhizomes similar to Iris plants.

Cattleya Orchid after Repotting.

Cattleya Orchid after Repotting.

  • Temperate to Tropical climates: 9 deg. C in winter and up to 35 deg C in summer. Mature plants can be kept outside all year around with  around 70 % sunlight (30% shade), never under direct sunlight. During very hot weather around summer time, keep it under 50 % shade. Young plants are better to keep indoor during very cold winter months.
  • If the leaves are too green, it means that the plant needs more sunlight. If the leaves are kind of yellow it means too much sunlight. The good leaves are supposed to be thick and stiff (not floppy).
  • Can flower all year around if winter is milder.
  • Watering is done when the medium has started to feel dry (by poking a finger under the surface of the potting medium).
  • Half strength liquid fertilizer weekly or every watering time during hot weather.
  • Mist the area if humidity less than 50 %.
  • Planting medium consists of large bark chips, pieces of charcoals, a bit of perlite.
  • Repot when plant has become overcrowded.

To repot Cattleyas generally similar to re-potting other orchids, by getting rid of dead materials. As the cattleya that I repotted had a lot of dead roots, rhizomes and bulbs, I cut all of them off before I replanted it. I also got rid all of the growing media. Position the plant with the new growths (where the plant likely to grow) more towards the middle of the pot. I used a slightly smaller pot than before, a pot that is too large will make the medium too wet and cause root problems.

I never knew before that Cattleya orchids were supposed to be kept outdoor under the shade. I thought they had to be kept indoor (in temperate weather) like Phalaenopsis. Maybe I will try to get a couple for myself to try. The plants are small and do not take so much space like Cymbidiums, and the flowers are really beautiful.

Cattleya Orchid - A lot of dead bulbs and rhizomes

Cattleya Orchid – A lot of dead bulbs and rhizome

New Growths - Cattleya Orchid

New Growths – Cattleya Orchid

After finished repotting

After finished repotting

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 December 21, 2013

Another Rieka’s orchid, very overgrown Cymbidium in a large pot. It was so very heavy, I could not take the plant out myself and my husband had to help me and eventually we ended up in cutting the plastic pot open.

I had never seen any Cymbidium grown in such a large pot and so over grown. Many leaves were damaged from fungal problems and sunburnt. More than half of the bulbs were without leaves and many of the foliage looked like they had been shredded on the tip. It was a surprise to see that the roots were quite healthy and plump. The small bark chips had almost completely disintegrated leaving only a compact ball of roots. I managed to divide the large plant into two section and each has three back bulbs. I saved the rest of the healthy back bulbs with roots to grow later. After I tidied them up, they look quite ok.

Overgrown Cymbidium Orchid

Overgrown Cymbidium Orchid

 
Two newly repotted Cymbidium from the 2 divisions

Two newly repotted Cymbidium from the 2 divisions

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Another orchid belongs to Rieka, I am not sure but I think it is another miniature Dendrobium. How odd, I just got one from Vivi but with reddish bulbs/stems. Rieka’s small orchid was also had a lot of grass growing and with most of the leaves were dry or eaten by snails (?). It was in a deep and large pot, so I repotted them into two smaller squat pots. I think miniature Dendrobium like to be pot bound.

Rieka's Mini Dendrobiums

I think it is miniature Dendrobium

Japanese Sweet Flag Grass

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Japanese Sweet Flag GrassThe variegated Japanese Sweet Flag grass had grown too big for our fish tub. The roots were hanging down in the water and the leaf canopy had started to look so untidy. Yesterday I took it out of the pot with much difficulty, had to split the plastic pot. I had cleaned and replanted some part of it to go back to the tub and planted some more in a small pot. Still have more left with no idea what to do with them.

A Big Clump of Japanese Sweet Flag GrassAcorus gramineus variegatus or widely known as variegated Japanese Sweet Flag grass is a bog plant that love to have wet feet. Very suitable to grow on the edges of ponds, in the garden where the soil tends to be wet or in pots.

To grow this small and pretty plant in pots will need a lot of water and can sit the pots on a tray of water. The way I do it is growing them in pots that have no holes. The bottom layer consists of small pebbles, then I top it up with sandy soil and plant the grass there and cover the soil with more pebbles. After finished potting it up, I fill it with water to the brim to create similar condition as boggy area on the edge of a pond or lake. I use a weak measure of liquid fertilizer to make the plant healthy.

The creamy colour flower spikes are quite small and tend to grow in between the foliage, so this plant is mainly grown for the pretty looking leaves. To make it look tidy, cut the yellow and dry leaves.

  • Acorus gramineus variegatus/variegated Japanese Sweet Flag grass/Japanese rush.
  • Need a lot of water, suitable for boggy area, edges of pond or grown as water plant. If grown in pots keep the soil moist all the time.
  • Form low and rounded clumps about 30 cm high.
  • Medium to bright light.
  • Warm and humid condition away from frost.
  • Liquid fertilizer during warm season. Note: If grown in a pond or as water plant and there are also fish there, the plant does not need any fertilizer. If there is no fish, special fertilizer for water plant will be suitable to use.

Japanese Sweet Flag - Water Garden Tub

Acorus gramineus variegatus - Japanese Sweet Flag

Saving Dying Orchid

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Last Saturday December 7, I went to visit a friend in Coburg. The warm and sunny weather made the visit enjoyable. We went to Vasili’s Garden Centre and Café in Munro st. Coburg. A small nursery and interesting café. We just looked around to see the plants there. My friend bought a small pot of miniature palm and later at her place, the palm was divided into two small clumps and she gave one to me. After visiting the nursery we went to Preston market to have lunch, looked around and bought a bit of vegetables.

From Preston market, we went to Lalor to visit my friend’s niece and another window shopping in Epping Plaza.

Anyway, to cut the story short, she also gave me her neglected and dying orchid plant. She doesn’t know what kind of orchid it is. What I saw was small stunted kind of pseudo-bulbs with a bit of small and thick leaves. It could be some kind of miniature Dendrobium.  The poor orchid was grown in ordinary potting mix and the pot was full of clover weeds. She said that I can have and save it, nice pink flowers…… Apparently this orchid plant was given to my friend from her other friend. It was flowering when it was given to her, but many years went by and it never bloomed again. It was kind of forgotten and neglected in her front garden exposed to all weather elements.

So another mystery orchid! At home I took the miserable orchid plant out of the pot, cleaned all the soil, the weeds and also got rid of the dead bulbs and stems. I repotted them into a slightly smaller pot with a special orchid medium. I finished it up by giving the plant a drink of seaweed fertilizer:)

See what is going to happen in the next few weeks…. Oh yes, I planted the mini palm in a pot, but later I plan to add it into the terrarium. I am not so sure what kind of palm, but it is really tiny. I hope it will stay small.

Close up No-Id Orchid

Close up No-Id Orchid

Saving Dying No-Id Orchid - Top View

Saving Dying No-Id Orchid – Top View

Miniature Palm

Miniature Palm

Soft Cane Dendrobium

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Today, when we bought a couple Sarcochilus orchid plants in the Orchid Farm in Langwarrin, the generous owner gave us two more Sarco orchids in smaller pots and a small Dendobrium as a bonus. One of the Sarco bonuses and the Dendrobium are mystery, it means that he will not tell how the flowers will look like/what colours. I cannot wait until they bloom!

Soft-caned Dendrobium

Soft Cane Dendrobium

So far, the only Dendrobium that I have is Australian native (D. delicatum) which obviously has hard canes. Only today I learned that basically there are two types of Dendobriums: The Hard Canes and the The Soft Canes. The dendrobium bonus gift is the soft-caned one.

These are my notes about Dendrobium Orchids :

Hard Cane Dendrobiums have tall pseudobulbs/canes and they are evergreen. The flower spikes grow from the top of the canes. Examples of these type of Dendrobiums are Dendrobium Phalaenopsis (Den Phal) or also known as Dendrobium bigibbum and some Australian native Dendrobiums.

Soft Cane Dendrobiums/Dendrobium nobile/Den nobile

  • It is terrestrial (grow on trees) or lithophytic (grown on rocks) from the Himalaya, Assam, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, found in lowland, mountain forest or rocky areas.
  • The plant is deciduous, will drop leaves in cold weather.
  • Flowering time is mostly in winter through spring. The blooms grow from the upper nodes of both leafed and leafless canes.
  • For growing in Melbourne-Australia, the plant can be put in the open (full sun/part shade) during growing season in Spring and Summer (after finished flowering). If the canes are too green with very luscious leaves, the plant may need more sunlight. In temperate climate, the plant can be left outside in the sun during dry winter time, when there are a lot of rainfalls, keep it in a bright place under cover.
  • Best temperature is not lower than 4 deg. C and not higher than 32 deg C. To help flowering night low temperature about 10 deg C is needed.
  • Watering is done only during the growing season after finished flowering in late Spring through Summer time (November – April). Reduce watering in autumn when the weather has started to cool down. In the winter watering is only needed when canes start to shrivel.
  • The plant will need a reasonably high humidity, can sit the pot on a tray filled with pebbles and water.
  • Fertilizing ‘weakly weekly’ during growing season from November to March with liquid fertilizers with high potassium content, fish emulsion, seaweed extract etc. and stop it completely during winter time.
  • During blooming time, keep the plant under cover to protect the flowers from rain.
  • Den nobile prefer relatively small pots, and as the plant can grow pretty tall, little stones can be put in the bottom of the pot. The most common potting  media that is used is pine bark or coco bark chips.
  • Repotting and division can be done when the plant has become overcrowded.
New Pseudobulb (cane) - Soft caned Dendrobium

New Pseudobulb (cane) – Soft cane Dendrobium

Soft-caned Dendrobium - Mystery Bonus

Soft Cane Dendrobium – Mystery Bonus

Sarcochilus Orchids

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Sarcochilus 'Fitzhart'

Sarcochilus ‘Fitzhart’

My husband and I went to Langwarrin to an Orchid Farm and bought Australian native orchids ‘Sarcochilus’. The small and pretty blooms are fragrant. These native orchids species are endemic to Northern, Eastern Australia and Tasmania. These epiphytic (grow on other plants) and lithopythic (grow on rockeries) orchids grow wildly on high altitude  mountain ranges. In Victoria, Sarco orchids can be found in certain areas around Mt. Dandenong. There are also quite a few of hybrid varieties.

As this is the very first time for me to have this species of orchid, I have to learn the growing requirements. These are notes that I have made:

  • Location: To grow Sarco orchids will need cool and airy shaded areas around 60 % – 70% with high humidity. It is common to place Sarcochilus under tables or benches. Never expose the plants to direct sunlight. Keep them in shadier place during summer months.
  • Temperature: The ideal is between 8 deg.C to 28 deg.C. In the summer when the Melbourne temperature can soar well above 30 deg.C, keep the plant in darker place and water down the surrounding area to make the air more humid. When the winter temperature is well under 8 deg.C, keep the plant under cover or if it is outside, the plant can be covered with plastic sheet. Never expose the plant to frost.
  • Potting media: consist of orchid barks or coco bark. A  little bit of river pebbles or styrofoam pieces can be added into the barks.
  • Watering: As Sarco orchids have no Pseudobulb, they will not be able to store water. Watering should be done regularly to keep roots moist. Reduce to about once a week during winter time. Rain water is more suitable to use. Do not let the leaf crown wet and keep flowers dry.
  • Fertilizer: During summer and autumn apply weak mix of liquid fertilizer such Aquasol, Fish Emulsion or Seaweed Extract once a week with exception, once a month use water only to flush the fertilizer residue (once a week for three weeks apply weak fertilizer and only water on the fourth week). Apply less often fertilizer in springDO NOT apply fertilizer at all during winter time.
  • Propagating: Sarcochilus will form a large clump that can be divided over time.
  • It can grow mounted on a shady tree trunk, on rockeries or just in ordinary pots. The proprietor of the orchid farm said that Sarco orchids will grow many long aerial roots. In older plant, the aerial roots can creep and cling on the wall, on rocks or on tree trunk. If grown in pots, when the clump is bigger, wide squat pot is better to use.

We bought two pots and both are flowering, the one with pink flowers (S. fitzhart) is larger than the white one (S. hartmannii sp.). We were given two extra in smallest pots. One is another flowering S. fitzhart and the other one is Sarco bernice klein ‘Pink Blush’ with no flower. So it will be a mystery how the flowers will look like, but I guess it will be pinkish. We were also given a small pot of soft cane Dendrobium (no flower) for free.

Sarcochilus hartmannii sp.

Sarcochilus hartmannii sp.

Sarcochilus orchids sp.

Australian Native Sarcochilus Orchids

Tempat Mandi Burung

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Pepohonan rindang dan burung-burung berdendang, alangkah nikmatnya untuk beristirahat dikebun semacam itu. Yang pasti untuk menarik perhatian burung supaya betah tinggal dikebun anda adalah adanya pepohonan rindang dan semak-semak hijau. Banyak pohon yang buahnya disukai burung misalnya pohon jambu, pohon talok/kersen, pohon tanjung, pohon sawo dsb. Selain buahnya, pohon-pohon juga menjadi tempat berlindung bagi burung dan membuat sarang. Burung juga membantu mengendalikan hama seperti misalnya ulat, semut dan serangga. Bunga-bunga yang cantik juga banyak yang disukai burung untuk menghisap madunya.

Banyak pemilik kebun memberikan makanan pada burung, walau harus hati-hati jangan terlalu banyak karena kalau tak habis malam harinya bisa mengundang tikus datang. Namun tahukah anda bahwa banyak jenis burung yang suka mandi? Disini di Australia banyak orang yang membeli ‘bird bath’ yaitu hiasan taman yang diisi air untuk minum dan mandi burung. Bentuknya macam-macam, ada yang kecil atau besar. Ada yang dibentuk sebagai patung-patung indah.

Untuk tempat mandi burung, air harus dangkal kira-kira 6 cm dan tidak lebih dari 10 cm dalamnya. Kalau burung mandi akan betul-betul ‘nyemplung’ keair sambil mengepak-ngepakkan sayap dan paruhnya sibuk membersihkan bulu. Jadi penting sekali supaya air tidak terlalu dalam. Juga kalau airnya mulai keruh harus diganti dengan yang bersih.

Disekitar rumah kami, burung tekukur, burung gereja dan ‘black bird’/Turdus merula suka minum dan mandi di ketiga ‘bird bath’ yang kami punya. Mau supaya burung banyak berkicau disekitar rumah anda? Selain menanam pepohonan, tempat mandi burung juga banyak bermanfaat dan sekaligus menjadi hiasan cantik dikebun anda.

Japanese Lady Bird Bath

Japanese Lady Bird Bath

Cherub Bird Bath

Cherub Bird Bath

Small Frogs Bird Bath

Small Frogs Bird Bath

Small Frogs Bird Bath underneath Gardenia Bush

Small Frogs Bird Bath underneath Gardenia Bush